What Meghan and Harry Teach Us About The Royal And The Common

As you and the rest of the world know by now, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry broke the international news cycle by announcing a retreat from their senior royal status.

One of my least favorite phenomenons in the world is when a global event happens and everyone suddenly assigns themselves an expert on the subject. There have been so many bad takes surrounding this announcement from critics and supporters alike that I’m going to sit the discourse out entirely. I do not know enough about the monarchy because I keep falling asleep during season one of The Crown and anyway, my interest in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is more as a romantic than a royal watcher.

Meghan and Harry Wedding

Over the last week, I’ve read a few compelling articles on the subject of Meghan and Harry’s decision. Although their experience is entirely singular, they’ve thrusted the world into the consideration of familial loyalty, duty, and how race compounds these components against the backdrop of a royal monarchy.

Afua Hirsch’s op-ed in the New York Times, Black Britons Know Why Meghan Markle Wants Out discussed Harry and Meghan’s decision as unsurprising to those acquainted with the double-standards Black Britons face in public society.

“In Britain’s rigid class society, there is still a deep correlation between privilege and race. The relatively few people of color — and even fewer if you count only those who have African heritage — who rise to prominent success and prosperity in Britain are often told we should be “grateful” or told to leave if we don’t like it here.”

I have followed Megan’s journey in the the House of Windsor only passively, but Hirsch’s article does a dutiful job outlining the racist scrutiny that has hounded Meghan in the British press, evoking the same mocking ghouls that chased Harry’s mother to her untimely death. In Heavenly Bodies, Hilary Mantel discusses the singular experience the women inducted into the monarchy must fold or steel against. Femininity is not to be individually possessed but occupied by The Crown, and subdued in any respect that it falls beyond this occupation.

Kate Middleton and Will

“Antoinette as a royal consort was a gliding, smiling disaster, much like Diana in another time and another country. But Kate Middleton, as she was, appeared to have been designed by a committee and built by craftsmen, with a perfect plastic smile and the spindles of her limbs hand-turned and gloss-varnished.”

Kate Middleton

“Kate seems to have been selected for her role of princess because she was irreproachable: as painfully thin as anyone could wish, without quirks, without oddities, without the risk of the emergence of character. She appears precision-made, machine-made, so different from Diana whose human awkwardness and emotional incontinence showed in her every gesture. Diana was capable of transforming herself from galumphing schoolgirl to ice queen, from wraith to Amazon. Kate seems capable of going from perfect bride to perfect mother, with no messy deviation.”

On the subject of Diana’s death,

“Her death still makes me shudder because although I know it was an accident, it wasn’t just an accident. It was fate showing her hand, fate with her twisted grin.

Diana visited the most feminine of cities to meet her end as a woman: to move on, from the City of Light to the place beyond black.

“She went into the underpass to be reborn, but reborn this time without a physical body: the airy subject of a hundred thousand photographs, a flicker at the corner of the eye, a sigh on the breeze.”

I was haunted by Mantel’s observations, particularly in how accurately she describes how a royal must abandon their personhood to fulfill the myopic identity regarded worthy of the Crown, or face hell otherwise. This same conflict is illuminated by Alyssa Rosenberg’s in a Washington Post op-ed, The Dark Side of Harry and Meghan’s Fairy-tale Escape.

“The House of Windsor is spectacularly privileged, but its members are also under tremendous pressure. Those of us on the outside might sigh over the decor and imagine what we might do with 20 million pounds a year (about $26 million). But I’m not sure most of us could name the actual salary we’d like to be paid for surrendering our personalities, performing an endless array of ceremonial but crushingly dull appearances, and doing it all while submitting to pantyhose (the female royals) and exhaustingly personal media criticism (both genders, but it’s worse for the women) every day.”

“A surface reading might present Harry’s desire to break away from the parts of royal life he finds stultifying as a victory his mother could have been proud of. But, as Tina Brown noted in The Diana Chronicles, Diana’s definition of victory was not always reliable. “She thought this deafening public scream would solve the matter once and for all,” Brown wrote of Diana’s decision to collaborate with Morton on a tell-all book. “It was her pattern, the belief that a single volcanic act could fix everything.”

I don’t know what to say all of this except that something in the feral side of my being understands the seductive nature of this idea that if we would only expose the wincing gnarled animal of our pain out into the streets then surely, we’d find some compassion in the masses, some modicum of comfort. Women like Diana and Meghan who have faced scrutiny and criticism the likes of which I will never know have learned otherwise.

I hope that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are able to find peace, as I hope that any other person might—royal or not. As I consider how common their experience of family dysfunction and disappointment is to the human experience, I am reminded of Rosenberg’s noteworthy conclusion:

The thing about riding off into the sunset is that, depending on the terms of your departure, it means leaving your once-beloved brother, father and grandmother behind. The folly would be in forgetting what kind of story this is, and refusing to see that another word for “drama” is “pain.”

Iconic: Princess Diana holidayed with Al Fayed's son Dodi on the boat, previously known as...

Making Resolutions That Don’t Suck

Yana Potter art

Happy new year, pals.

I wish I’d written this on the first. I was about to say the world feels so shiny then but on second thought, this is only in my imagination considering that I spent the day recovering from a cruel hangover on our sofa couch in the living room with R and two of our friends that crashed at after staying up until 3am playing video games with a soundtrack from the 90’s-early 2000’s featuring hits from faves like Fabolous and The Cardigans.

Not how I expected to spend the first few hours of 2020 but, you know—I wouldn’t change it.

We spent the following afternoon binging The Circle, a new reality show from Netflix. It’s essentially a social experiment straight out of a Black Mirror special and I fully expected to hate it but the production does a good job of humanizing the contestants and the experience they’re in. Overall, it’s a fun ride and we enjoyed it so much we were all shattered to find out we couldn’t keep watching after FOUR hours because new episodes are released in successive batches through the rest of the month. Ugh, quelle horreur.

This was our queue to peel ourselves off our respective couches and get our lives together.

I gave myself a pass until the third until I shook off the holiday vegetation. Since then, I’ve begun striving for my best self, that is if my best self is a compassionate queen that understands self-improvement is a lifelong journey that should be approached with grace, understanding, and consideration towards both achievements and limits.

And I’m really trying to grasp this limits thing.

I’m the type that will say “yes” to it all and later wonder why I’m over-committed, under-rested and cranky as all can be. While I was laying in bed the other night, I tried to sit with my own body and accept those limitations as a testament to own humanity instead of something to be resented.

All that said, I resolved to my resolutions that don’t suck this year. And by that, I mean don’t suck the life and joy out of my state of mind or well-being.

Resolution one: Be in the moment and not in a pithy coffee-mug saying kind of way but in a real sense of gratitude that allows moments to be whatever they may.

Recently, I looked over two years of photos I have saved on my hard drive. Memories from various bday parties, holidays, or weekends spent exploring with R. A common theme that stood out was how beautiful each of these moments stood on their own because they were spent among the people I love.

Yet so many of these times, I remember being stressed about being late, what to wear, wait – did I get a card, or whatever other tizzy of concern my mind conjured up. These worries seem so trivial in retrospect and I grieve they’ve ever kept me from just enjoying the privilege of being with my people.

In 2020, we’re saying no to worry and yes to the mystery of each moment.

Resolution two: Adopt a security mindset.

I didn’t expect to find a career as a consultant, writer, creative hybrid. It found me. And for all intents and purposes, it works. I’m fulfilled by the projects I have going and the right opportunities keep finding me as I plug away at my craft.

And yet (there it is again) when I’m between projects, I forget the thousands of times things have panned out the way they’re supposed to or how miraculously doors have opened at exactly the moment they’re supposed to.

Are you familiar with the enneagram test? It’s a personality test with a typology of nine interconnected personality types. I have a hard time putting a ton of weight into personality tests or their inconsequential cousins, er—astrology and Hogwarts House quizzes. But for the purpose of this discussion, I am a textbook Type 3 in the Enneagram model.

Type 3’s driving motivation factor is, “if I’m successful, I am worthy.” This is problematic. Clearly. The goal-posts are ever moving and no level of achievement or gold stars are enough. This might imply why my earning potential and productivity is an ongoing source of anxiety. It’s, quite frankly, an exhausting existence exasperated by our culture’s demand for performative perfection. You know that analogy, paddle like a duck while keeping things serene and cool above the water? That’s me, baby.

In 2020, I’d like to reorient my idea of security from one of performative perfection and achievement to an unmoved confidence in my place in the world, whether I produce another item of note or not. When I was going to bed last night, R slept next to me as some sleepy piano playlist played on the speaker next to our bed and I knew I needed nothing beyond that moment to feel secure in myself or my life.

I’d like to live in the reality of this knowledge with hands ever-open to the circumstances that shift around me.

Resolution three: Don’t give up.

There’s another lie I’ve been confronted with recently and it’s the idea that false starts are wasted. I’ve let myself believe that any prior intention towards healthy eating that has been abandoned too soon or fitness plan left unfinished were pointless. It’s just occurring to me now as a 28-year-old woman that these strings of attempts were strides of progress in and of themselves.

On the third, I decided to begin weightlifting again like I used to when I was a member of a CrossFit gym in NYC. The last time I picked up a barbell was 2015. Five years later, I remembered how to do a snatch, Romanian deadlift and other moves with much less weight than I used to, sure, but I took pride in the progress my body carried unforgotten.

The point is where I’ve been and how every inch I’ve made towards a more holistic existence may have been forgotten by me, but my body and my spirit remembered. The point is the journey and whether you will returning to the trail you’ve been assigned.

Whatever your resolutions are this year, hold fast to them as long as you can and give grace to yourself once you bend towards your own humanity again. Take comfort in knowing none of your efforts are wasted. And anyway, you can begin again.

10 Unusual Gifts For The Cool Girl In Your Life

Hi, friends.

I hope you’ve had a great week.

I am currently posted on my couch watching 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way. Have you guys seen it? The premise of 90 Day Fiancé (the genesis of the spin-off I’m watching) is that partners from foreign countries arrive stateside on a temporary visa to decide whether their courtship with the American they’ve been dating should end in marriage.

This spin-off I’m watching flips the script. Americans sell everything and end up following their hearts to Ecuador, South Africa, Qatar, or wherever else their mates may be. You see the entire spectrum of American entitlement on display; it’s both incredible and full of cringe. And I love it.

Anyway, it’s entertaining me on this quiet night in while R works a game for the Solar Bears hockey team down the street.

He’s tasked me with compiling a list of gift suggestions for the upcoming holidays and my birthday soon after so I’m sharing a list of gifts for the Cool Girl in your life. You know, the one I’d aspire to if I weren’t at home in my pajamas watching TLC instead.

Printed Silk Scarf. Little Swimmers Illustration.

I’ve admired this silk square scarf for years now! I’ve never been inclined to spend the money on buying it for myself but it’s a beautiful piece of art, feminine yet still evoking the power suggested by the poses of the dancers and the bird with fastest wing beats in the animal world.

2020 Wall Calendar by Lisa Congdon

We just bought this calendar from Portland artist Lisa Congdon last week and can’t wait for it to arrive. Printed at a local family-owned print shop on 100lb opaque bright white paper, this one will make for a great punch of color in the kitchen while we’re cooking and I’m looking forward to upcycling the prints as gifts once the year is done.

New York Metro Minimalistic Map Printable Art 8x10

In the case that color is not what you’re shopping for, here’s a deconstructed 8×10 print of the New York metro instead for the minimalist in your life. Note that this is a $5 digital file, you’ll have to print it and frame it yourself which is super easy to do.

Sleeper pajamas

I am obsessed with this set and if you follow really any influencer at all, you’ll know they’re having a moment. They’re pjs that you wear on the street … because you spent over $200 on them. I usually shirk at trends that oversaturate Instagram but I’ve been obsessed with these since I saw them.

Feather trim is having a moment and I am unabashedly here. for. it.

Girls Girls Girls Tote

A Cool Girl will never have enough tote bags. It’s a cosmic law. Send tweet.

Ruby Compass Star Necklace Ruby Necklace July Birthstone

I might be making this up from a dream but I feel like I used to have a piece of costume jewelry that looked exactly like this unique piece. I have a crush on any jewelry that looks like a compass or north star, and the garnet detail here reminds me of a Victorian-era heirloom. It’s a very Drew-Barrymore-in-Ever-After moment.

Lost In Miami. Art Print

I recently explored this local gift shop called Yay! where the owner had curated several prints from Janet Hill and I’ve since been obsessed. I thought she was a local artist as well, but Hill is based in Ontario. Clearly, her work is suited to grace any coast or any home.

Terrazzo concrete coasters

Terrazo is also having a moment right now and these coasters would make a sweet housewarming gift. Let me know if you’re moving anytime soon.

Bud Vase. White or Rose and Gold Feminist Porcelain Center

I’ve been looking for unusual details to decorate our home and this porcelain statement piece is a celebration of feminine energy. I love it.


Another linen x organic cotton canvas tote (never enough) that supports an artist while being large enough to carry everything you need. This one can be used open or cinched by the leather ties (similarly to an LV Neverfull).

Dutch Still Life Wrapping Paper

Finally, here’s some Dutch still life wrapping paper I’ll be using for all my gifts into 2020 to wrap your finds in.

Now back to 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way and seeing if Evelyn is gonna marry this gringo who is in love with her or if she’s just rinsing the poor dude for his pesos.

Be a Cool Girl.

Don’t be Evelyn.

Shop Like You Live Here, Orlando

Recently, I’ve begun working for a local media company called Where By Us as an Engagement Producer. A part of my work at Pulptown, the local email newsletter distribution covering local news and events that I directly work on, is to build partnerships with the many creators, business owners, and entrepreneurs that make Orlando the vibrant city it is.

This past Saturday was Small Business Saturday, a nation-wide shopping holiday designated to promote small businesses and their local communities. I was looking forward to my work bringing me over to connect with business owner’s participating in College Park’s Sip & Stroll event as this neighborhood has been one of my favorites in Orlando for over a decade.

Shortly after high school, three of my friends and I rented a pre-war home in College Park where we shared a rose garden, a den with huge windows that was later turned into my bedroom, and many meals together. I lived with a law student, a missionary, an artist, and a teacher. It was a sweet time in my life characterized by an amalgamation of youthful intimacy and unbridled optimism. We are all in different parts of the country and long past the days of sharing beds with our girlfriends or staying up late sharing prayer requests while sitting on an old mattress in the garage, but I still cherish those memories.

As I shared coquito with the dynamic women who own Naked Bar Soap Co. across from Infusion Tea and later caught up with Sarah, the owner of Good Crowd Shop, I was reminded that community is integral to the flourishing of not only our local marketplace but our own sense of creativity and connection as well.

I hope to share more about the inception and ethos of these female-owned businesses in the days to come but for now, suffice it to say that I couldn’t help but bring home a few tokens of this reminder.

Two vases from Good Crowd Shop that are new in our home, $19 altogether.

It’s not that I necessarily needed a new pouch but more that I could not resist keeping this unusually-patterned beauty in my purse. You can’t tell in the photo below but the thick fabric has an iridescent quality while still being lightweight that caught my eye and kept it since.

I’m using it as a lipstick pouch now.

These days, I’ve been stuck on wearing an Isabel Marant shade in La Seine Shadow. One of my best friends, G, introduced me to it when she gave it to me as a gift and it’s one of those magical pink shades that looks good on fair and darker skin alike. I’m also obsessing over Glossier’s Generation G formula since it’s the most lightweight lipstick I’ve ever tried and the formula has a buildable quality to it that lets you determine the pigmentation. I’ve also been carrying around this beautiful Givenchy lipstick that R’s mom gave to me over the summer because the packaging is delightful but I haven’t found a reason to wear this dramatic oxblood color out yet.

A new pouch from Good Crowd Shop ($6) to hold a daily rotation of lip-wear.

In the interest of sharing, I also purchased the beaded earrings you see below which Sarah had curated from Ink+Alloy. After my first wear, I learned I was unfortunately allergic to the metal that but have since sealed it with a clear nail polish to make them less irritable.

The winking earrings you see are an old favorite from local designer, Lene Makes. Another favorite daily piece to wear is the gold knot necklace you see on the right is from Kate Spade; there’s something about the significance of (promise) knots that I’ve been attracted to for years now.

I’ve also been rotating these promise knot pearls and a chunky silver ring I found online. The size and weight of the silver is comforting to me and since I usually put it on when I start my work day it’s become a signal to focus on #SeriousBusiness in its own right. I like my jewelry to be simple but carry meaning to me personally, secrets worn in plain sight.

A few faves I’ve been sporting lately.

Finally, I’ve been loving a recent gift from the Artifact Candle Foundry in Thornton Park.

They sell soy candles and provide an opportunity to create your own with friends. When they opened up a short walk away from my home, I was skeptical — could they be worth the price of a luxury candle or was it just hype? But Lily of the Valley, seen below, has won me over. It’s clean, floral, and burns evenly filling up the whole house with a floral fragrance that is rich yet not overpowering. While I was wandering their store, I noticed they have over 40 scents ranging from Santa’s Pipe to Fresh Cut Grass to Patchouli to Autumn Leaves and truly everything you could imagine in between. Even their Cannabis scent had a delightful quality to it.

I’m also loving these buttons given to customers for free from Rifle Paper Co. in Winter Park where I found a couple of Christmas presents for friends.

You can smell the relaxation from here.

I suppose this is a good time to plug that if you’re local to Orlando, I’ve collaborated with many of the businesses mentioned here to secure gifts for readers that become Pulptown members this month. The exclusives and terms of these giveaways are outlined in each newsletter distribution scheduled up to January so do subscribe if you’re interested.

Pulptown itself is free, but running it isn’t.

There are three of us on the local team making videos, writing fresh content Monday – Friday, curating events throughout the city we would attend ourselves, organizing panel discussions that deal with local issues like affordable housing, and securing incentives for members like discounts and free gifts. Pulptown’s slogan is #livelikeyoulivehere and in 2020, you’re invited to do just that.